CD1973000 Mozart Requiem KV626, Aix 2019, Pichon
Mozart Requiem in D minor KV626
Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2019, July 8, 2019
Siobhan Stagg (Sopran)
Sara Mingardo (Alt)
Martin Mitterrutzner (Tenor)
Luca Tittoto (Bass)
Chadi Lazreq, l'enfant
Director : Romeo Castellucci
Orchestre et choeur Pygmalion - Conductor : Raphaël Pichon
"Mozart’s Requiem becomes a revelation at Aix-en-Provence Festival
Romeo Castellucci’s staging uses dance and music to create a remarkable experience
Micaela Baranello JULY 9, 2019
A woman goes to sleep, slowly sinking into her bed until she vanishes. Thus begins Romeo Castellucci’s Requiem at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, a largely danced staging of Mozart’s mass for the dead.. A ritual celebration of lives and deaths — of this ordinary woman, of Mozart, of the Earth — it is beautiful and cryptic.
Castellucci is working in the same vein as Peter Sellars’s staged Bach Passions and Claus Guth’s Messiah, but his work is not so much a concept as a revelation. Dances (by Evelin Facchini) and the mostly white costumes evoke folklore in general without representing any culture in particular. The choreography’s concentric circles, facing lines and simple movements recall traditional dance but also Paul Taylor’s modern dance classic Esplanade.
The abstract is balanced with the specific. The woman from the opening is seen at multiple stages of life. A boy kicks a skull like a football. Mozart left the score unfinished at his death, and the entire ensemble collapses at the point in the Lacrimosa where he broke off. Other sequences invoke sacred rituals, both Christian (palm fronds) and Hindu (the coloured powders of Holi).
Mozart’s score, augmented by a few other compositions by the same composer as well as some chant, is given a graceful performance by the French historical practice ensemble Pygmalion, led by Raphaël Pichon. Soloists, chorus and dancers blend seamlessly onstage; vocally the rich alto of Sara Mingardo is the standout.
Throughout the production, projections provide a list entitled “Atlas of Great Extinctions”, a sombre revision of the encyclopedic impulse of Mozart’s Enlightenment. The list first includes species and places, later moving on to “the crickets in the evening” and “this theatre.” Yet for all its quiet terror, Requiem has a radiant quality, celebrating the community bonds and cycles that undergird life and death.
In a way, Requiem is an inversion of The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky’s primitivist ballet presented untamed nature as a horrible force. Castellucci, using a similar vocabulary of dance and ritual, instead suggests a benevolent nature which can heal the wounds of modern life, if we don’t destroy it. Rite ends with human sacrifice, Requiem with the cast shedding their clothes to return to a state of nature, finally leaving a happily gurgling baby alone onstage as a young boy sings: “May the angels lead you into paradise.”
As mourning, it is cathartic; as art, it invites not so much interpretation as sheer experience.